5 Awesome life lessons my abuelita taught me

I wasn't lucky enough to meet neither of my grandfathers nor my paternal grandmother since they all passed away before I was born. But God blessed me with my amazing abuelita Celia who turns 97 today! Happy birthday, abue! (Too bad you're so far away because nothing would make me happier than seeing your beautiful face and giving you tons of kisses...).

My grandmother is the abuelita best in the world. A couple of years ago, she fell and broke her hip. Truth is that we all pretty much thought that was it because of her age. But my grandma surprised us all by being much stronger than we thought and a few months after her nearly fatal fall, she was walking again!

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Read more in ¿Qué más?: What we need to learn from this abuela on World Health Day

In honor of her birthday I figured today was as good day as any to share the five life lessons I learned from this beautiful and loving woman in the almost 40 years I've been lucky enough to call her abuela:

  1. Family is everything. Two examples. The first one: months after my dad passed away, I called her and asked is she could please travel from Lima to Miami to be with my siblings and I on our first Christmas without him. And that's exactly what she did. The second one: When I found I was pregnant with my first child, I knew I wanted her to be with me when she was born so I called her again and asked her to travel from Lima to Denver. And she did just that — at 91 years old!
  2. Never let go of your independence. Although family is of utmost importance to my grandmother, her independence is too. We tried to convince her to move to the U.S. many time, but she always said her life was in Lima and that even though she missed us, she was happy there. About 15 or 20 years ago, she started dating an old friend who was recently retired. While she said she had a good time with him, she eventually dumped him because he was too controlling and she was "too old for that kind of thing."
  3. Age is only a number. My grandma has lost count of how old she is. When my aunt asked her recently how old she thought she'd be today, she said 80 without flinching. But when she was told she'd be 97, she told my aunt: "You're crazy! How  is it that I feel like a quinceañera then?" 
  4. Lipstick and jewelry are your friends. My grandmother has always been flirtatious, elegant and impeccable. I don't remember ever seeing her en fachas and her collection of necklaces, earrings, bracelets and rings is covetable. If I close my eyes, it's not difficult to conjure up an image of her with a small mirror in one hand and her lipstick in the other touching up her makeup after a meal, for example. 
  5. Life is way too short to complain all day long. If you ask my grandma how she's feeling, she'll undoubtedly tell you that she's doing great! I can count in one hand the few times she's complained that something hurts, that she's tired or that she's not feeling well. I can honestly say she's enjoyed and continues to enjoy her life. 

Abue, thanks for being the best and HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU!